The Legislative Session began Tuesday with a State of the State address from the Governor.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, like his predecessors, spent his 30-minute time slot delivering a speech rife with self-congratulatory framings of the state’s accomplishments and a highlight reel of what the administration hopes to achieve over the next 60 days.
For the most part, it’s theater. The Governor’s budget proposal has been public for weeks, and DeSantis has toured the state extolling the various policy proposals he has pitched to lawmakers — you could probably compose a rough transcript of his State of the State by copying and pasting soundbites from his pressers over the past couple of months.
Still, there is one line that stuck out, and it has been gnawing at me ever since.
“The rule of law also means that our citizens have the ability to participate in elections that are secure and transparent. It is Orwellian doublespeak to invoke the concept of ‘voting rights’ to mean ballot harvesting, prohibiting voter ID and taxpayer funding of elections. Those are political concepts that erode the integrity of our elections,” DeSantis said before introducing his proposal for an elections police force.
Republicans have long derided public elections funding, mostly because they don’t benefit from it. Public matching funds apply to the first $250 of contributions received from individuals, so it can be a boon to candidates — generally Democrats — who attract a lot of small-dollar donors. Candidates who receive the bulk of their funding through max checks from wealthy donors or businesses don’t benefit all that much.
There is a reason I say generally. Because sometimes Republicans do rely on public funding. The most relevant example, in this case: DeSantis.
His 2018 campaign happily took and spent $3.3 million in public matching funds — several hundred thousand more than his opponent, Andrew Gillum. And it is arguably that money that secured his election in a race decided by a few tenths of a percentage point.
A literal interpretation of his own words makes it seem as though he believes his own election was neither secure nor transparent. Of course, he isn’t actually saying that. This is just an observation of how talking points from a Republican Primary outrun your past.